Ruby
 

Choosing chocolate: The story of Original Beans

By: Dave Gunner

December 10, 2018

When it came to choosing a chocolate to add to our Upper Class bar there was no end of brands to choose from. So what was it about Original Beans that really stood out? We delve into the story of this extraordinary chocolate and the process of getting it onboard.

Sometimes the tiniest onboard details reveal the most interesting stories. Take the small chocolate bars on our Upper Class bar for example. We put them there so you can help yourself if you get a bit peckish during your flight. The chocolate in question is the award winning Original Beans – the choice of numerous Michelin star chefs. But more than that, Original Beans is a company with a heart. Their chocolate isn’t just delicious, it’s organic, ethical and sustainable, and behind each type of chocolate there’s a fascinating tale to tell.

Throughout the production process Original Beans replenish everything they consume. They support communities and local economies by paying a fair price for the beans while at the same time protecting fragile ecosystems. Their packaging is a world first for the chocolate industry, where both the wrapper and the foil is garden compostable. The beans are chosen for their connection to indigenous tribes, remote locations, rarity or the diversity of their growing environment.

We’ve chosen four bars to feature in Upper Class:

Cru Udzungwa. Academy of Chocolate winner 2017, this dark chocolate is made from the Trinitaria bean grown in Udzungwa Mountains National Park in Tanzania, an important safe haven for elephants. By supporting the farmers, Original Beans are also helping these endangered gentle giants.

Cru Virunga. Another deep, dark chocolate, this is made from the Amelondo bean grown in Virunga National Park in DR Congo. Original Beans has been working here since 2008, planting thousands of trees, and improving the livelihoods of the farmers to the benefit of the park which is a refuge for countless animals and plants including mountain gorillas. To find out more about this place and its fight for survival check out the extraordinary documentary Virunga

Esmeraldas Milk. This is a silky milk chocolate made with the Arriba bean, grown in the cloud forests of the Esmeraldas Coast in Ecuador. This unique ecosystem on the Pacific coast surrounds the Mache-Chindul Ecological Reserve. By supporting the farmers of the Arriba beans, Original Beans are preventing deforestation of the region and protecting its rare tree frogs.

Edel Weiss. A bare white chocolate from beans grown in the Yuna River valley in the Dominican Republic, combined with Swiss Alpine milk. Sales of Edel Weiss support Original Beans ‘One Bar: One Tree’ programme. For every 70g bar sold a tree is planted around the Virunga National Park, improving the financial situation of the farmers.

The Virunga National Park is home to half of the world’s mountain gorillas.

Sourcing the best for you

To find out how Original Beans chocolate made its way onto our Upper Class bar we spoke to Sophie Uys, a manager in our in-flight services food and beverages team. Sophie knows a thing or two about chocolate. Having gained a BSc in culinary arts management, she trained as a pastry chef and went on to work as a chocolatier for the Chocolate Partnership under William Curley. During this time she gained an in-depth knowledge of all things chocolate and a massive appreciation for the finer aspects of its production.

Sophie Uys

“When choosing an item for the Upper Class bar, it must first follow our Sustainable Restaurant Association guidelines and have a good story behind it,” she says. “I then like to find niche brands that our customers might not have heard of, and of course, they have to be of an indulgent quality or have proven health benefits. Finally, we’d look to find new and exciting things. We’ve recently featured treats as varied as protein balls, retro sweets, traditional shortbread and duck crackling.

“Original Beans fits the bill perfectly. Where cacoa grows really influences the flavour of the bean, and I love the fact that Original Beans chocolate is grown in such spectacular and special places and has such a great story. What I also love about Original Beans is that every year they provide us with a chocolate footprint infographic (below) showing the benefits of buying their brand.”

Sunrise on Napo River, Amazon

"Original Beans was founded on a passion for making the finest chocolate and for replenishing what we consume. Our passion has led us to protect endangered wildlife, triple farmer
incomes, build the first climate-positive supply chain, and offer the first garden compostable chocolate packaging". - Philipp Kauffmann, Founder & Chief Grower, Original Beans

So if ever you were looking for an excuse to eat chocolate, you now have one.

If you’re flying Upper Class, it matters to us that you can indulge in truly world class chocolate at our onboard bar. And it matters just as much that a chocolate treat at 35,000 feet can make a difference by helping to protect original variety cacao plants, and the communities that grow them. Not to mention the pristine cloud forests, mountain gorillas, elephants in Tanzania or rare Ecuadorian tree frogs that live in these unique places. We hope you love Original Beans chocolate as much as we do.

Dave Gunner

Dave is the co-editor of Ruby, the Virgin Atlantic Blog. He has worked at Virgin Atlantic for over two decades. In that time he has amassed some truly epic memories but never lost his fascination with the airline world. Dave's on a mission to bring you some great insights into our people, planes and planet.